Infrastructure Victoria gazes into the crystal ball, looks to the future of vehicles in cities

Infrastructure Victoria gazes into the crystal ball, looks to the future of vehicles in cities
Infrastructure Victoria gazes into the crystal ball, looks to the future of vehicles in cities

Infrastructure Victoria (IV), the agency set up by the Victorian Government to produce the state's 30-year infrastructure plan, in its capacity as advisor, has produced a series of documents which are the first step in attempting to the look at the future of trucks and cars in our cities.

While Infrastructure Victoria's focus is, naturally, on Victoria, the advice the agency has now published just as easily apply to the rest of the country.

IV has chosen to structure their advice into seven different futures which have different variables applied to them.  For instance, the variables include whether the vehicle is autonomous, what the vehicle's energy source will be and what ownership structure vehicles in the future might have.

The seven futures are as follows.

  1. Electric avenue, a world where all cars are electric
  2. Private drive, a world where your car drives you
  3. Fleet street, a world where no one owns their own car
  4. Hydrogen highway, a world where trucks lead a hydrogen revolution
  5. Slow lane, a world where man and machine meet on the road
  6. High speed, a world where driverless and electric cars arrive much sooner than we expect
  7. Dead end, a world where the hype never happened

Each future attempts to outline the broad benefits and risks associated with each and the advice broadly addresses infrastructure-related issues.

In the 'Hydrogen Highway' future, for example, the note that a high level of thought would need to be applied to how hydrogen would be produced and distributed.

Electrolysis for hydrogen production involves the decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen and the advice notes that using electricity from renewable sources - wind or solar - from a climate & emission abatement angle, is the best way to do it.

The sixth future presents a scenario where electric, autonomous or both vehicles arrive much sooner leaving governments unprepared for the rapid change.

One of the risks IV has outlined in this scenario is that older combustion vehicles will need to be rapidly disposed of and they point out the potential for negative amenity and environmental impacts in a rapid disposal scenario.

The Victorian Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings, requested the advice from IV stating in the terms of reference letter that "road vehicles stand on the verge of what could be the biggest changes since the mass market of the combustion engine."

"While Victoria already has the largest electric vehicle charging network and the highest number of electric vehicle registrations in Australia, any barriers to increasing the proportion of zero-emission vehicles in the Victorian fleet may delay or reduce the benefits that the community can achieve in terms of environment, and hamper the future deployment of automated vehicles."

The evidence-based used to inform the advice will be published in August 2018 and the findings and recommendations will in turn influence the next update to Victoria's 30-year infrastructure strategy in 2019.

To view the published advice, see infrastructure.vic.gov.au

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Urban.com.au. Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

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